Linguistic Competence, Convention and Authority: Individualism and Anti-Individualism in Linguistics and Philosophy

Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles (1992)

Adele Mercier
Queen's University
Two central tenets of externalist theories of word individuation are: the claim that some terms derive their meaning from causal connections to the world , and the claim that some terms derive them from intentional connections to the linguistic community . A normative conception of language underlies the latter claim . It is this conception which motivates the reliance on a principle of literal interpretation in interpreting ascriptions of intentional content. ;The new theory of grammar initiated by Chomsky yields radically individualistic conceptions of language and of mind incompatible with those underlying communalist theories of conceptual content. ;The feasibility of the principle of literal interpretation postulated by normativist theories depends on the possibility of identifying the language of the subject. This condition grounds an important distinction between cases of deference to science and cases of deference to communal norms. For while our shared commitments to science are a function of our sharing the same world, and thus transcend language communities, commitments to linguistic norms differ essentially across language communities. ;The conception of language and concept acquisition underlying normativism leaves unexplained the facts of language change. Moreover, the problem of concept-individuation, which communalism seeks to solve by appeal to an individual's normative commitments, merely resurfaces as that of individuating linguistic communities. ;Subjectivism provides an explanation of language change, as well as an important insight into the historical chain picture of the reference of names. ;Moreover, the view that humans are innately endowed with concepts is problematic for an externalist theory of concept-individuation. I conclude that a relational theory of concept-individuation is inconsistent with Chomskian premises.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 60,694
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

A Theory of Meaning.Adrienne Lehrer - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 161 (1):97-107.
Theory of Meaning.Adrienne Lehrer - 1970 - Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Could Competent Speakers Really Be Ignorant of Their Language?Robert J. Matthews - 2006 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):457-467.
Ignorance Radicalized.Gergo Somodi - 2009 - Studia Philosophica Estonica 2 (2):140-156.
Nativism: In Defense of the Representational Interpretation.Glen Hoffmann - 2009 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 9 (3):303-315.
Why We Still Need Knowledge of Language.Barry C. Smith - 2006 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 6 (18):431-457.
On Individualism as a Theory of Content.Jeeloo Liu - 1993 - Dissertation, The University of Rochester
Lexical Norms, Language Comprehension, and the Epistemology of Testimony.Endre Begby - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (3-4):324-342.
The Primacy of Public Language.Arthur Jonathan Mckeown-Green - 2002 - Dissertation, Princeton University
On the Distinction Between Literal and Non-Literal Language.David Ian Sturdee - 1999 - Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
Wide Content Individualism.Denis M. Walsh - 1998 - Mind 107 (427):625-652.
The Concept of Rule and the Explanation of Linguistic Behavior.Michael Andrew Popich - 1980 - Dissertation, State University of New York at Binghamton


Added to PP index

Total views
1 ( #1,480,581 of 2,438,567 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #436,491 of 2,438,567 )

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes